Resumption Of Texas Preview

Posted in IndyCar on August 26, 2016 by Oilpressure

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One of the more unique set of circumstances in IndyCar history will take place tomorrow night as the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Texas Motor Speedway to finish what it started two and a half months ago. The resumption of a race that much later is something I don’t think has ever happened before. I know that it’s something that I’ve never seen before in my adult lifetime.

I’ll tip my hat to IndyCar’s Jay Frye and track president Eddie Gossage for making this situation about as fair and equitable as possible for everyone involved – teams, drivers and fans alike. Without going into details (mainly because I can’t remember them all), fans are getting a break on tickets. Ticket holders for the original race in June can attend this race or use it for any ticket at TMS over the next year. Those that were not in attendance get a 28% discount off of their race ticket for tomorrow’s activity. Why 28% off? That’s the amount of the race that has already been completed.

Track activity consists of a ten-minute practice session between two groups, beginning at 4:30. There will be an autograph session shortly after the completion of the two ten-minute sessions and then they go racing shortly after 8:00 CDT, live on NBCSN. 171 Laps remain. The lap count will begin the first time the cars cross the start/finish line after the cars leave pit lane – not when they take the green flag.

The cars must return in the same aerodynamic configuration as when the race was red-flagged. The only element allowed to be changed is the front-wing angle. NO driver changes are permitted, so Gabby Chaves must return to the cockpit of the No.19 entry for Dale Coyne even though he hasn’t been in the car since a seventeenth place finish at Iowa on July 10th.

But there are two things that I think of immediately that set tomorrow night’s race apart from any other red-flagged race I can think of. First of all, normally crews are not allowed to even touch the cars during the red-flag period – which normally doesn’t last more than a day. Obviously, that isn’t practical in a case like this. In fact, some drivers may not even be in the same car. Ryan Hunter-Reay destroyed his car in a practice car last week at Pocono. I don’t know if that was the same chassis he ran at Texas in June, but I do know it was the same car that won the 2014 Indianapolis 500. Regardless of whether or not it ran at Texas a couple of months ago, it will run no more.

Are others allowed to run different cars than they ran in June? If not, should Hunter-Reay be forced to restart tomorrow night at the back of the field? Right now, he is running in second place, behind leader James Hinchcliffe.

That brings me to the second strange set of circumstances. If memory serves me correctly, Hinchcliffe had cycled to the front by not yet pitting. There was controversy under the lengthy yellow for the cleanup of the Josef Newgarden/Conor Daly crash that occurred on Lap 42. As Hunter-Reay was just coming out of the pits, Hinch just beat him to the blend line to remain in the lead. Under normal circumstances, it would have only been a matter of time before Hinchcliffe would have to pit and relinquish his lead.

But these are not normal circumstances. All cars, including the No.5 car of James Hinchcliffe will be allowed to fill their fuel cells before the start of the race – allowing Hinchcliffe to remain in a spot he inherited simply by staying out longer. Is that fair? Probably not, but there is no way to determine which cars had what amount of fuel, over two months and five races later. It’s just not possible. So the easiest and most feasible way to manage it is to let everyone start back with a full fuel load.

This decision was nothing compared to the gutsy (and correct) decision to not allow Josef Newgarden or Conor Daly to not participate in the resumption of the race. The rulebook clearly states that a crashed car cannot be repaired to return for racing, just because there was time to repair the car during red flag conditions. Had the race resumed that day, the cars nor Newgarden’s wrist and collarbone would not have been repaired by the end of that race. Whether the race resumed the next day, the day after that or two and a half months later is immaterial.

I like both Newgarden and Daly, and the race fan in me wants to see Newgarden be able to score points toward the championship. But wanting to do things correctly overrules the fan in me. If you don’t follow the rulebook, why even have one. Why not just make up the rules as they go along – as IndyCar has been accused of doing in past years.

I applaud Jay Frye for sticking to the rulebook and for using a combination of common-sense and fairness for coming up with what appears to be the best way to overcome the obstacles that arose with this very unique situation.

And what about the championship battle? Will Power clearly has momentum, while Simon Pagenaud must be wondering where his big lead went. His lead over the charging Power is now down to twenty points. Power will restart the race in fourth place, while Pagenaud will be in fifteenth place.

Power won one of the silly “twin” races at Texas in 2011, but has also finished second, seventh and eighth twice. Last year, Power finished a forgettable thirteenth at Texas. Pagenaud is decent at Texas, but not quite as good as Power. In four visits to Texas, Pagenaud has a fourth and a sixth, but has also finished eleventh and thirteenth. The pressure is fully on both drivers. I don’t think either will win tomorrow night, but I predict Power will finish ahead of Pagenaud; thereby either cutting deeper into Pagenaud’s lead, or passing him altogether.

My prediction for the win is the driver who drove his heart out this past Monday at Pocono, only to come up just two spots shy of the top spot on the podium. Of course, I’m talking about Ryan Hunter-Reay. We’ll see.

George Phillips

Random Thoughts On Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 22, 2016 by Oilpressure

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There is really no way to know how this race looked on television, but it was spectacular in person. Like all five hundred mile races, there was that lull around the halfway point – but what a finish!

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Pocono Race Day – Part Two

Posted in IndyCar on August 22, 2016 by Oilpressure

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For the third day in a row – welcome to Pocono Raceway. The skies are blue with puffy clouds. It is a brisk 64-degrees, but it is very windy. Winds are supposed to be 15-knots out of the north, with gusts up to 25-knots – not ideal conditions for cars going 220 mph.

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No Racing Today At Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 21, 2016 by Oilpressure

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By now you’ve probably heard that the ABC Supply 500 has been postponed until Monday at noon and will be shown live on NBCSN. Trust me, it wasn’t a tough decision to make. It started spitting rain around noon and it set in for good around 1:30. So an earlier starting time would not have made any difference.

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It’s Race Day At Pocono

Posted in IndyCar on August 21, 2016 by Oilpressure

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Good morning from a breezy and partly cloudy Pocono Raceway. While the skies look OK now, the weather is approaching quickly. It now likely that we will be here tomorrow to either run or at least finish the ABC Supply 500. I know the Olympics take precedence, but this is what happens when you start a five-hundred mile race at 3:00 on a track with no lights. Oh well, everyone here seems resigned that we will be here an extra day. There are worse things that can happen than being “forced” to spend an extra day at a race track.

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Pocono Qualifying Wrap-Up

Posted in IndyCar on August 20, 2016 by Oilpressure

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The field is now set for the 2016 ABC Supply 500. Mikhail Aleshin won his first career pole with a two-lap average speed of 220.445 mph. That completes a strong run for Honda, who put five cars into the Top-Seven spots on the grid. Josef Newgarden put his Chevy powered car from Ed Carpenter Racing on the outside of the front row and Helio Castroneves will start fourth as the only other Chevy driver in the Top-Five.

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Pocono – Practice One Update

Posted in IndyCar on August 20, 2016 by Oilpressure

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Practice One is in the books at Pocono Raceway. First the bad…There were three incidents which brought out yellow flags. Early on, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the rear-end of his car whip around on him and he had a hard hit into the outside wall of Turn One. His car hinted at going all the way over before coming to a stop against the inside retaining wall. He was uninjured, but the same cannot be said for his DHL machine. He will be forced to go to his backup car for the remainder of the weekend.

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